Author of six goals and three assists during the 2021-2022 season with Lens, Florian Sotoca is preparing for a new year in the championship. The striker confided in RMC Sport before the resumption and discusses his preparation, the departures of his teammates and his objectives.
Your first league match will be at Bollaert, you will receive Brest, how are you approaching this new season?
This is the fourth week of preparation. We’ve been in the field for quite some time now. We’re preparing as best we can for this new season because we know it’s not going to be easy. There are four runs this year so it’s going to be a special season. Despite some departures that hurt us, we know that the guys will be well replaced. It’s up to us to keep this state of mind and this forward play that we have had in the last two seasons and which allowed us to finish in seventh place. We must not take the lead and we must not take ourselves for others. We have friendlies left, the last four have gone very well. We have the same objectives as last season in terms of quality of play.
Doucouré, Clauss, perhaps Fofana, how do you deal with the departures of certain executives with whom you were sometimes very close?
Douc’ was our essential pawn in the middle with Seko. Jo’ Clauss had two superb seasons and he got to know the France team. It’s a completely different path for him and I’m proud because he’s someone who deserves, who has worked a lot and signing for a club like Olympique de Marseille is not given to everyone. Congratulations to him, he deserves it. It’s the same for Douc’, he’s more discreet but just as important for us. These are significant losses, but the leaders have done everything to have rapid and quality recruitment. The club still has a bright future ahead of it, despite some departures that are part of football. We know that there will potentially be other departures and arrivals.
On a personal level, have you set any goals?
No particular objective. I am not someone who takes the lead. I prefer to live from day to day and enjoy what happens to me. I have a rather atypical background, I am 31 years old, but I still want to progress. I wake up every morning with a smile and train like it’s the last day. This is my strength and I will keep it as long as I am on the pitch, as late as possible I hope. I want to do the best possible season individually, but the most important thing is the collective. We are going to try to hold on as quickly as possible and if we have something to play for, we are not going to deprive ourselves.
Does the World Cup in Qatar in the middle of the season have an influence on your preparation?
This is the first time this has happened, after that it’s the same for everyone. We are in discovery. We will have to redo a preparation at the beginning of December because we will have stopped 15 days. It’s a special year but one that we don’t apprehend. We don’t bother with that.
How far can RC Lens go this year? Do you dream of the European Cup?
It’s true that the last two seasons were magical. Especially last year when we were able to find our audience in Bollaert. We all enjoyed it together with the staff, the leaders and the public. There is an exceptional fervor here. We enjoy every moment. We are in a big club, with big supporters. Let’s stay as soon as possible and then why not play something beautiful as we have been able to do over the last two seasons where we miss Europe on the last day against Monaco twice. We want to relive that and we will give the maximum to be as high as possible.
Like Jonathan Clauss, who has just signed for OM, you have a rather atypical career path. Do you have a message for those struggling at the amateur level?
It’s true that with Jo’ we have a rather special career because we didn’t go to a training center and we signed late at the professional level. We often talked about it with Jo’ in the locker room. It is also positive for us, every morning we arrive with the banana, we are always positive. For the youngest it proves that everything is allowed. There is no age to progress and to sign professional. It shows young people that you should not give up, even when you are in trouble at the age of 25. With work, anything can happen. 10 years ago you would have told me that I would be in Ligue 1 with Lens, some would not have believed it. But I never gave up, I always fought.
FIFA 23 will be released in a few days. Kylian Mbappé would be the highest rated player in the game with a rating of 92. You had 74 in FIFA21, 75 in FIFA 22. What rating do you expect to have this year?
76! I am 31 years old and I still hope to progress. If I have one more point, so much the better. Kylian Mbappé is currently the best player in the world, he deserves this rating. As a good FIFA player I will play with him next year!
Tell us about the goal you dream of scoring… and that you are going to score this year. Ideally it would be against whom?
Ideally during the derby. We know that here it is very important. Last year we performed for three games, I think they still remember it. We also remembered it when they put us 3-0 and 4-0. It hurts to lose against Lille. And for the goal… an acrobatic scissor on a cross from Jean-Louis Leca! A beautiful chisel that goes into the bezel would be a nice wink.